Archives for posts with tag: Flying Nun Records
Tidal Rave_Bronwyn Haines

Tidal Rave – photo by Bronwyn Haines

Tidal Rave are a 5-piece band from Wellington. Their first EP continues a grand New Zealand tradition of darkly compelling guitar-driven rock.

Tidal Rave may not have heard of The Terminals or predecessors Scorched Earth Policy who were both part of the gloomy disaffected Christchurch contingent on Flying Nun Records in the mid 1980s. But the music and lyrical focus of the EP evokes memories of both bands.

In part it’s the churning unsettled dense weave of the three guitars and bass backed by insistent drumming with primal floor-tom pulse. Add the character provided by the distinctive vibrato on the vocals – reminiscent of the ominous baritone proclamations of The Terminals’ Stephen Cogle – and it’s possible to imagine this EP as the product of another era.

There’s something slightly claustrophobic about the nature of all the songs and the often sombre lyrics on the Tidal Rave EP which sets the group apart from much of the contemporary scene in NZ. Here’s hoping the worldwide audience for NZ’s darker guitar music discovers Tidal Rave.

Tidal Rave

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SaturationsHere’s an atypical track called “Run Electro” from a new album called “Saturations” by New Brighton, Christchurch musician Blair Parkes.

“Run Electro” is an attention-grabbing song, bursting with luminous colour and surging along on an insistent rumbling bass line with phased distorted organ swirls, like a kind a super-charged Stereolab on steroids.

It’s a bit of an odd one out on a curiously sequenced album which seems to morph from reflective guitar folk-pop at the start into more effect-driven shoegaze territory before exploring even deeper into electronic synth-pop.  It’s not the sort of album you can dip into for a quick listen here and there and come away with a sense of what it is all about. It rewards the full journey.

“Saturations” is a curiously timeless collection of songs. The first 4 songs of the songs could fit comfortably in the late 80s/ early 90s NZ/ Australian reflective guitar pop scene, while the second half of the album crackles with more electronic energy, sometimes reminiscent of UK synth-pop band Frazier Chorus.  Both halves of the album are bursting with fine songs.

 

Listening to this Blair Parkes album has sent me on a trip back to NZ pop underground of the late 1980s. Keen students of obscure Flying Nun Records releases may recognise Blair from All Fall Down (FN0989) and The Letter 5 (FN169).

Parkes’ blog post here on the All Fall Down years is also a fascinating insight into the life of a young musician playing in an obscure ‘2nd wave’ Flying Nun Records band in the mid to late 1980s in New Zealand.

As a bonus here’s the Bats-meets-Triffids styled perfection of All Fall Down’s “Black Gratten” from 1987:

 

 

 

Surfdog_seafog12Day 30 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Port Chalmers (above), formerly home to Xpressway Records and still home to many Dunedin musicians. Here’s local musician Francisca Griffin with “Falling Light” –

If you are thinking “that sounds a bit like Look Blue Go Purple” then that may be because two of the three musicians playing on this track are former members of Look Blue Go Purple. Francisca Griffin was Kathy Bull back then, and she’s joined here by LBGP guitarist Kath Webster.

The third musician is drummer Gabriel Griffin – Francisca’s son. You’d normally hear him providing the scattershot rhythms behind the inimitable free-form experimental improv drum & woodwind ensemble Sewage.

“Falling Light” has the kind of freshness and instantly recognisable light and airy guitar tones of its place of origins. Psychedelic folk perhaps, Southern NZ style, and in some respects as reminiscent of David Kilgour’s solo music as it is of LBGP.

It’s a track from a forthcoming album set for release on CocoMuse Releases this year.

Shayne OffsiderDay 15 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from repatriated Dunedin legend Shayne P. Carter with a track from his “Offsider” album. Here’s “Ahead of Your Time” –

Shayne P. Carter made his mark over dozens of now classic Flying Nun Records releases with Bored Games, Doublehappys, Straitjacket Fits and others last century – then with the brilliant Dimmer this century.

Never one to rest in a comfortable spot musically speaking, proficient guitarist Carter set himself the challenge of mastering the piano and, on “Offsider”, takes his songwriting in new directions.

His approach to the piano is similar to his instinctive approach to the guitar – as much about sound, propulsion, atmosphere, and tension as it is about melody.

Joining him here is regular drum collaborator Gary Sullivan (of JPS Experience) and also saxophonist Richard Steele (saxophonist/ producer of The Puddle’s “Playboys in the Bush”).

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

Day 12 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness is a track from the just-released debut album “Morningside” by Fazerdaze. Here’s “Friends”

“Friends” takes the Fazerdaze template of brilliantly simple ingredients: layering guitar melody over a bass-line, and adding introspective lyrics. What happens next is uncharacteristic but exhilarating; engaging hyper-drive with a sonic chorus blast of fuzz guitar and soaring melody.

That kind of 1, 2 punch from quiet to euphoric loud with lashings of melody is something late 1980s/ early 1990s Flying Nun Records label-mates The JPS Experience used to excel at too. In fact “Friends” would fit comfortably among the songs on their final album “Bleeding Star”.

PopLib tends to champion the underdog and you’d have to be hiding under a rock to not have heard a Fazerdaze song or seen an online article or review about the Auckland musician’s debut and current UK tour, such is the interest in the debut album. So this post is less about discovery of an under-appreciated musician as celebrating the achievement of someone championed here for the past 3 years.

PopLib first featured Fazerdaze back in 2014 when the first EP had it’s initial hand-made CD-R format release. It was clear right from the start that Amelia Murray’s low-key and personal music made a connection with listeners. By staying grounded, trusting her instincts to keep things understated, and focus on self-recording her perfect introspective guitar-pop, she’s created a wonderful first album that retains the essence of that first EP.

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

LBGP_2017Day 5 of 31 Days of May for New Zealand Music Month and we are still in Dunedin to revisit the quietly influential Look Blue Go Purple with “Circumspect Penelope”, a track from a new (released today) double album called “Still Bewitched” compiling their three EPs along with a side of previously unreleased live tracks.

Look Blue Go Purple filtered the spirit of 1967 psychedelic folk rock through the more contemporary influences of the post-punk make-your-own-sound freedom of The Slits and The Raincoats and the 1980s Dunedin scene they were part of. There’s some more background on the band and this album in a recent Otago Daily Times article.

There’s a tendency from some to view Look Blue Go Purple as a group somehow distinct within the Dunedin scene. Yet this overlooks the involvement of most of the musicians in a variety of other bands before, during and after Look Blue Go Purple’s reign from 1983 to the end of 1987.

Drummer Lesley Paris had been in a band called the Craven A’s with Terry Moore (The Chills), David Kilgour (The Clean, Great Unwashed) and Peter Gutteridge (The Clean, Great Unwashed, The Puddle, Snapper) prior to Look Blue Go Purple. She was the powerful rhythmic glue that held the early line-up of The Puddle together for 5 years from 1985, while Norma O’Malley wove farfisa organ and flute through The Puddle’s spidery psychedelia, all at the same time Look Blue Go Purple were in existence.

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The Puddle in 1985 – L-R George D. Henderson, Lesley Z. Paris, Norma O’Malley, Peter Gutteridge, Ross Jackson & Lindsay Maitland

After Look Blue Go Purple Lesley continued with The Puddle then played in Buster and Olla. Norma O’Malley formed Chug with Alf Danielson, Kathy Bull played bass in Cyclops with Peter Jefferies and Denise Roughan was in the 3Ds. And that’s just the immediate post-LBGP highlights.

As an added bonus, “Circumspect Penelope” also has one of the very best Dunedin music videos ever, by regular Flying Nun Records video-maker Pat O’Neill:

too-tone-tony-awaits-you-2I’ve spent a lot of my life in record stores. I’ve even planned overseas trips around record stores to be visited. Although still in the prime of life I’ve seen the heyday of record stores and now the twilight of record stores (as well as the rise and decline of progressive civilisation it seems).

Yes, despite the much-discussed ‘vinyl revival’ and best year for new record sales since 1991, the small independent stores that kept the format alive throughout the dark years as well as the good years continue to drop away.

Sadly Dunedin’s iconic record store Too Tone Records, out in North East Valley, closes on Sunday 15 January 2017.

Too Tone Records started out in the back of Chick’s Hotel about 2008 or 09. It was a much better idea in theory than it was in practice. I enjoyed the regular pilgrimage out to Chick’s in Port Chalmers, and browsing the record bins while waiting for a show to start. But it wasn’t really a happening place for a record store, despite everything else going for the location.

By the end of 2010 Too Tone Records had moved to North Road in Dunedin’s North East Valley; the city’s artist quarter, if Dunedin had such a thing. More musicians past, present and future than any other Dunedin neighbourhood at least.

Dunedin’s record stores have played an important part in the music scene here. From the mid 1970s to the 1990s it was Roy Colbert’s Records Records in Upper Stuart Street. The main indpendent record store during the 1980s and 1990s was Echo Records on George Street. It was bought out by Auckland-based chain Real Groovy Records, moved into a huge warehouse next to The Police Station and then closed, several years ago now.

In recent years Portil had a short but useful run in the centre city before Relics started nearby. Relics continues to trade – new and used vinyl as well as CDs – and long may it run.

Too Tone Records is/ was a special place. It’s rare in the world of used record stores to have such a meticulously ordered and aesthetically pleasing space. The wall displays – including seasonal themes – were ordered and displayed with an art curator’s eye for colour and order. That care extended to the carefully washing of all used records and their re-bagging in new anti-static sleeves.

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The New Zealand music selection is/ was legendary. Sure some locals grizzled about the prices, but not the visitors who knew a good deal when they saw it. The reason for such a strong local music selection in Too Tone Records is that Tony refused to do what every other record store in the country did which was putting all their rare local stuff on E-Bay and Discogs for overseas collectors to obtain. Tony had no problem with overseas buyers, he just preferred to see them visit Dunedin and his store in person.

Apart from the records, a visit to Too Tone was a chance to view great original art. Tony is a renowned comic artist/ illustrator, and a recent focus of his artistic skill was the ‘re-purposing’ of paint-by-numbers paintings, acquired mostly at the rubbish tip recycling shop, into giant green octopus-themed works of art.

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A Tony octopus-themed paint-by-numbers modified artwork.

Despite Too Tone Records’ proprietor Tony Renouf’s carefully crafted image as an idiosyncratic curmudgeon, he has always been a very welcoming and genial curmudgeon, as long as you didn’t come into his shop drunk or indulge in other anti-social or record-store-inappropriate behaviour.

A visit to Too Tone was also a chance to discuss the weighty topics of the day, or just to grizzle generally about the things that annoyed us most at the time. Tony was a good listener. He’d say that’s because he’s partially deaf from years as a dub reggae DJ, and is therefore used to just looking at people and nodding thoughtfully when they speak to him.

Visiting Too Tone Records you’d find all the local LP releases available and also have a good chance of bumping into a famous Dunedin musician or two, or even a former England cricket international, or a touring US rock band.

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Tony shows members of Real Estate the Clean EP pop-up art while they purchase Sneaky Feelings’ “Send You” LP and The Orange “Fruit Salad Lives” EP in 2012.

Anyway, Tony has decided to get out ‘at the top of his game’. Can’t disagree with that. You can still follow Tony’s art exploits via his blog.

Thanks for the vinyl, the art, the conversations, the patient listening, the salesmanship and the whole Too Tone Experience.

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